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Women’s football is not commercially viable? Try telling that to Helen Hardy

Women’s football is not commercially viable? Try telling that to Helen Hardy, the co-founder of Foudys!

If anyone says that women’s football is not commercially viable, then look no further than Foudys.

Launched in 2020, Foudys is the first company to sell women’s football jerseys with the official FAWSL lettering and Championship WSL lettering.

Yes, you read that right – it has taken this long for supporters of women’s football teams to be able to purchase a replica jersey that actually is a PROPER replica, logos and all.

The brainchild of co-founders Helen Hardy and Hannah Inglis, started as a direct response to frustrations the couple had found with the women’s merchandise industry.

“I was already running a small online women’s gift shop which was successful in selling my homemade brand “WFF” (Women’s Football Fan) hoodies as well as player related items,” explained Helen.

But frustrated by their experience of being women’s football fans and not being able to buy merchandise that was sized realistically and had correct lettering/numbers – they took matters into their own hands.

“I collect football jerseys and I couldn’t get hold of a reasonably priced NWSL jersey,” said Helen. “I also really wanted a Lionesses kit with the correct lettering, while Hannah had been having similar issues with her beloved Manchester City. She wanted WSL font on her WSL kit but could only get Premier League lettering and numbering.

“And don’t get us started on the humiliation of women’s football sizing. You can be a size 12 in regular clothing but Nike tells you you’re an XXL in women’s football jerseys (aka a size 20). Adidas isn’t much better.

“The major brands simply weren’t there for women’s fans in any way so if we weren’t going to be catered for, we’d better do something about it!”

Helen and Hannah thoroughly researched not only their audience, companies, clubs, copyright issues and engaged in conversations, they sought legal advice too as their journey began.

“There were times last year when it looked as if we wouldn’t get this off the ground,” said Helen, “But it is something we both felt so passionately about and had invested so much time, effort and emotion into that we were not prepared to give up.”

Whatever obstacles were in their path they managed to navigate, every setback they worked to turn into a step forward and in December 2020 was officially launched.

Initially selling eight jerseys, the company has since increased to 23 jerseys including NWSL, International and European shirts – and they have been flying off the shelves with global sales including Canada, Australia and Singapore.

“We now have over 20 different jerseys sold which means that every single FAWSL club has someone out there wearing the proper shirt with the women’s numbering and lettering,” said Helen.

“One of the main reasons we are doing so well is because we respect our audience and what they want – to be able to go to a match and wear their team’s shirt with pride, exactly as it should be, not nearly as it should be.

“People say that women’s sport isn’t commercially viable – well I can tell you three months in, having broken even, having got into a position that our team is going to expand, that women’s football is commercially viable, that it is a business which is possible to build and expand on.

“We have not paid for advertising, our success is simple – we are selling women’s football jerseys that there is such a clear and obvious demand for.

“It’s fantastic that this has been an organic growth, by word of mouth within the women’s football community.”

And the value of community is a constant thread binding together all the threads that make Foudys so unique.

“This isn’t just a website flogging football shirts,” adds Helen. “We have started doing some fund-raising and recently auctioned off a shirt donated by Lauren Hemp which raised £500 for East Anglian Hospice, a charity of her choice.

“We have also launched Manchester Laces for women and non binary people, because we are all about making everyone in this community feel a part of something, giving us our space because we have never had our own space before.

“I’m so excited, delighted and relieved that after all the obstacles, all the struggles we are in a position to have got Foudys up and running and are making positive changes too.

“I don’t feel like my work is done, not by a long shot; but it’s nice knowing that this is my full-time job now because this is my life.”

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